Why must people put cute images in my head? Someone suggested drawing Bucky in a soft sweater being cozy, and… well I had to.
(I imagine that it’s easiest to keep the arm uncovered so fabric doesn’t get caught in the plates, and it’s not like it can really get all that cold, so he just rolls up the sleeve.)
And now I’m going to ruin it. Because I’m mean.
The enormous windows really freaked Barnes out when he first came to stay in
Stark Avengers Tower. If he’d been jumpy in the elevator, that was nothing compared to his reaction when they reached Steve’s floor. What the hell was Stark’s obsession with being visible at all times?
windows vulnerabilities were everywhere. Half the walls in the place were made up of huge planes of glass. Bucky felt exposed. Vulnerable. Threatened. Defensive.
It was a rough first couple of weeks, until Jarvis finally blacked the panes out, and Bucky felt like he could breathe again.
For weeks he wouldn’t go near them, opaque or not, and tensed up noticeably anytime Steve strayed near one. He was convinced someone would come crashing through one of them in a full-scale assault on the building any time now. Fucking superheroes lived here. This place wasn’t safe. It was a huge blinking sign that read ‘please attack here’.
He didn’t care how often Stark Jr. swore up and down that the window material was stronger than steel. He didn’t care if there was supposedly some kind of super-advanced tech that prevented people from seeing in. He really didn’t care if Stark’s creepy robot butler told him it was safe – because what the hell did JARVIS know about HYRDA, anyway?
Fuck. Windows. All of them. That was Bucky’s stance.
So Steve is, understandably, confused, when he comes home one evening to find his best friend sprawled out across the over-wide sill of a newly transparent window in their living room, wrapped up in the thickest, softest sweater Steve could find on offer in New York City, and his favorite khaki blanket.
It is, unsurprisingly, one of the only windows on the entire floor that isn’t overwhelmingly huge – roughly the right size for a 6-foot tall man to stretch out in- and has soft, soothingly light-blue curtains as a gentle frame-work around it. The whole setup makes for a pretty inviting seat, and Steve used to sit here to sketch when it was just him and he needed to keep his hands busy. He never really thought about it before, but this thing was probably very carefully designed precisely to calm down jumpy, nightmare-plagued veterans… Just- probably not the one who’s sitting in it now.
Stark might be obnoxious, but he notices little things that people need sometimes, even before they know it themselves…
Bucky looks sleepy and contemplative, a resigned sort of relaxation to him, that looks downright peaceful after months of looking over his shoulder and flinching if anyone got too close.
Bucky even dragged over some throw-pillows from the couch to lean on, and seems to have gotten about halfway through one of Steve’s ‘must read’ novels before getting distracted by the view outside – or maybe the one inside his own head. With everything Bucky’s been through, it can be hard to tell what he’s thinking.
A mug of what smells like the fragrant pomegranate tea that he pilfered from the common kitchen last week is still steaming gently against his knee, balanced by metal fingertips, and forgotten for now.
There’s no chance that Bucky didn’t hear him come in , but Barnes doesn’t turn his head; just sits where he is, still and thoughtful and silent. His flesh and blood fingers remain pressed softly against the cold, clear glass, like he keeps expecting it to disappear.
“It’s not the same.” Bucky says quietly after a few minutes of silence. “It’s… almost like… It’s close …, but- …” he can’t seem to decide on the right words, and shrugs, still gazing out into the late January snow, then falls silent again.
“It’s close, but not quite right?” Steve supplies softly, coming to stand close to the window, careful not to block Barnes in. Bucky hates it when he doesn’t have a clear path to the nearest door.
There’s no answer but a soft exhale against the glass, so he presses on.
“… I know what you mean. S’like a bad dream sometimes. But it’s still home. Just… grew up a little while we were gone.”
“This is as close to the city as I’ve gotten in… months.” Bucky still hasn’t turned his head. Just watches his breath fog and fade against the window. “Me, I mean. Not him.” The words sound like they catch a little coming out. “I don’t know, or care where he’s been. Not right now.” Steve refrains from flinching at the way Bucky still disassociates from what was done through him. He prefers it to the screaming nightmares, in that Bucky seems to suffer less, but he’s been reminded mulitples times by Sam that he really shouldn’t be encouraging it. It isn’t healthy and it’s not helping Bucky heal. Steve’s never been all that good at tough love, though; and how do you remind your best friend that the mass murder they committed was still technically them, even if it was against their will? … Yeah, he’ll let someone who knows what the hell they’re doing tackle that, before he makes it worse.
“Could be totally fake, for all I know.” Bucky continues, interrupting Steve’s thoughts, his voice flat. “Just a picture… or a video, or whatever. Could be a trick and I’d never know it.”
“S’not a trick, Buck.” Steve crouches down to look out too, resting his elbows carefully by Bucky’s feet, eyes tracing a small white flake as it careens past. When Bucky doesn’t move away, he goes on. “The world changed, is all. This is just what it looks like now.”
Bucky looks out in silence for a few more minutes, then finally turns and looks at Steve. He looks so tired. So beaten down, despite all the positive progress he’s made since he came back.
“Yeah?” he asks quietly, less a question and more of an invitation.
“Yeah. You’ll get used to it eventually.”
Bucky seems to mull that over, then abandons his book entirely and clutches the mug in his lap with both hands, like he’s drawing strength from the violently pink, fruit-scented beverage inside. He takes a deep breath and fixes his gaze firmly on Steve’s.
“Yeah. Ok.” Two words that mean a lot more than that. Steve hears I trust you. I believe you. I’m still following you. He leans down and rests his head against Bucky’s leg, and Bucky lets him.
“It’s still real pretty in the snow, though.” Steve tells the blanket, though he knows Bucky can hear him just fine.
“Yeah.” Bucky agrees quietly, taking a long sip, and almost, almost smiling, just the tiniest bit. His hand ghosts over Steve’s shoulder, balks, then finally settles, tentative as a a fluttering bird, just barely touching the shirt-sleeve. It’s the first voluntary contact he’s initiated in days. Bucky’s eyes are back on the snow outside when Steve glances up at him, trying not to ruin the fragile moment with the weight of his smile. Steve looks away and buries his relief in a thick fold of the blanket. He’ll take any connection they can have right now.
“It really is.”